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Osadolor urges media to be watchdog, not ‘lapdog’, decries ‘media capture’

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Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Nnanyelugo Okoro (left) and the Guest Lecturer, Kingsley Osadolor, during their arrival for the 12th Jackson Yearly Lecture of Osadolor’s Alma Mater, the Department of Mass Communication, UNN… yesterday.


A fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Mr. Kingsley Osadolor, has identified the phenomenon of ‘media ‘capture as a primary threat to the ability of the media to exercise its constitutional and professional powers to foster best practices of democracy in Nigeria.

Other encumbrances, according to him, include failure to deploy the tools of journalism adequately, failure to utilise the legal backing to the media and inadequate rigour in reportage of issues in Nigeria’s democracy, all resulting in lack of credibility of the media as a driver of citizen participation in democracy.

Osadolor, the best graduating student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Class of 1984, spoke when he delivered the 2019 Jackson Annual Lecture of his alma mater, the Department of Mass Communication, on the subject, “Media Freedom: Utilitarian Imperative and the Pursuit of Democratic Ends” yesterday.

Osadolor, a former Editor of The Guardian on Sunday and East Africa correspondent of The African Guardian, said: “Perhaps, the greatest impediment to the full realisation of the watchdog role is ‘media capture,’ which results in deference and subservience to the other Realms and influential citizens, including powerful corporations, over whom the Fourth Estate is supposed to play the role of sentinel. Ownership, commercial influence, ideology, governmental and partisan political pressures, as well as advertiser blackmail, are key factors in media capture.”

He said that the media needed to strengthen its ranks by deploying the tools of the trade as well as existing legislation that empowers it to hold the government accountable to the people.

The former Commissioner for Information in Edo State recognised the damage done to media credibility by fake news often peddled by social media platforms but held that the solution lies in better journalism by professionals.“Good journalism … will further drive social media purveyors of fake news, hate-speech, and blatant exaggeration into the periphery. The Fourth Estate must constantly remind itself of its mission, which is to be a watchdog and not a lapdog,” he stated.

He identified three principal sources of “media enablement” in legislation to be the 1999 Constitution, pieces of municipal law; and treaties, international agreements and protocols, which Nigeria has ratified. He cited the Act establishing the National Broadcasting Commission, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the Freedom of Information Act as containing provisions that empower both the media and citizens.

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